Digital transformation is changing not only societies, but also the world of work. The manufacturing industry is characterised by increasing automation with intelligent robots linked to each other. Twenty-one Tunisian MP participants who visited Rittal GmbH & Co. KG in Hesse with the TÜV Rheinland Akademie in May 2018 were able to see the efficiency of one of the world’s most modern logistics systems there.
Haiger. Looking to the future has always been important to Rittal in Hesse, the leading supplier of control cabinets andsystems worldwide. The invention of theseries control cabinet in 1961 was just the beginning. Today the company is an international operation and employs almost 10,000 people. In the past few years, Rittal made the largest investment in the enterprise’s history and builta state-of-the-art plant in Haiger for the production of compact housings. There Industry 4.0 structures form the basis for highly efficient production, logistics and communication processes.
Something that reminded the Tunisian executives of science fiction films at the start of their visit to the family-run business turned out to be a journey to modernity: headsets with an innovative design, white vests for the visitors, a virtual company presentation on a large screen in the reception area. But the journey continued and took the guests to the real marvel of modernisation: the newly built central warehouse, an enormous complex of buildings with more than 40 loading ramps and a high-bay storage system with a total capacity of 25,000 pallet spaces and the most modern logistics system the market has to offer. In addition, a fully automatic storage system for small parts with state-of-the-art shuttle technology for spare parts and accessories. “Through the investment, Rittal has been able to increase the quantity of dispatched products by 50 per cent”, explained Henrik Lehman, Business Development Manager for the Middle East and Africa. “We are also particularly flexible as a product and systems supplier”.
The Rittal Innovation Center models a real production plant and proved to be the highlight of the company visit. The specialfeature: customers, developers and visitors can experience and discuss all process steps directly at the stations, with machineryand tools based on actual everyday situations, and develop solutions – from engineering to material delivery, the preparation and processing of parts up tothe finished product.
Here the next work of art awaited the guests: the virtual prototype of a control cabinet, the “digital twin”. On the basis of a digital 3D model, the Tunisian executives designed a customised construction and behold it immediately. “This technology makes it possible to put together a control cabinet according to one’s own requirements”, one MP participant enthused. “Even for those who are not experts”.
The lively discussion with Lehmann once more showed the topicality of the World of Work 4.0. “The principle of modular construction ensures Rittal’s competitiveness with regard to prices”, says the German manager. It also enables the firm to supply high quality control cabinets to meet specific requirements at carefully calculated prices. And that is of particular interest in Northern Africa. Rittal has representatives, mainly in Morocco, for possible cooperation. Customers can buy goods through the representatives for smaller orders. The colleagues in Germany take care of orders and deliveries for larger projects and provide support with project planning, programming, configuration, wiring of the control cabinets, and the necessary tests. Initial talks are currently ongoing regarding a possible cooperation between the Tunisian firm Segitec and Rittal. Representatives of both enterprises are currently in contact regarding business scope and know-how.
The visit to the Hessian firm showed once again that innovation is the driving force behind firms’ competitiveness. Hence, many of the managers resolved to implement innovation as an element of business development in their firms at home.